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20 Jamaican words that orig­i­nat­ed from Niger­ian lan­guages

Igbo cul­ture and lan­guages, as well as oth­er cul­tures from Africa, were key in form­ing the Jamaican Patois lan­guage and cul­ture dur­ing the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

20 Jamaican Patois words that orig­i­nat­ed from Niger­ian lan­guages  (Hous­ton Caribbean Fes­ti­val)

The Igbo peo­ple of Jamaica, Akan peo­ple of Ghana, and oth­er African cul­tures influ­enced Jamaican cul­tures due to the influx of slaves from those regions dur­ing slave trade. Here are some Patois words that have Niger­ian ori­gins.

Jamaican Patois is a colour­ful mix of sev­er­al lan­guages passed down from both our ances­tors and rem­nants of our colo­nial past and many of the words derive direct­ly from Igbo, Efik, Yoru­ba and a mix of Eng­lish.

Here are a few.

1. Akara

This derived from the Yoru­ba àkàrà, and points to a type of street food — bean cakes.

2. Attoo

This derived from the Igbo átú, mean­ing “chew­ing stick”

3. Big-eye

Big Eye” is derived direct­ly from the Igbo “anya ukwu”, mean­ing “greedy”

4. Breechee

20 Jamaican Patois words that originated from Nigerian languages
20 Jamaican Patois words that orig­i­nat­ed from Niger­ian lan­guages  (Pam­bazu­ka News)

This is from mbùríchì, mean­ing an Nri-Igbo noble­man

5. Buck­ra

This is an Efik term from mbakára, mean­ing “white man”

6. Chink, Chinch

This is from the Igbo chị́nchị̀, mean­ing “bed­bug”

7. Coun­try ibo

from Ị̀gbò, Pluchea odor­a­ta or Pti­sana pur­puras­cens

8. De, Deh

This is derived from the Igbo dị, [with adver­bial] mean­ing “is” (to be)

9. Door-mouth

This is a claque from ọ́nụ́ ụ́zọ̀ (mouth + door), mean­ing “door­way”

10. Hard-head

This is from Igbo ísí íké, (head + hard, strength), mean­ing “obsti­nate”

11. Him­ba

This is from Igbo mba, “yam root”, a type of yam, Raja­nia cor­da­ta

12. Kaba-kaba

is derived from Yoru­ba (and Akan, Ewe) and means ‘unre­li­able, infe­ri­or, worth­less’

13. Mumu

means “dumb”, but is derived from Yoru­ba (and Ewe) where it means ‘slow in the head’

14. Obeah

from Igbo ọbiạ, mean­ing “doc­tor­ing”, “mys­ti­cism”

15. Okra

This is from the Igbo ọkwurụ, a veg­etable

16. Poto-poto

This is from the Yoru­ba “opo­to-opo­to”, mkpọtọ-mkpọtọ, mean­ing “mud”, “mud­dy”

17. Red Ibo, Eboe

from Ị̀gbò, a per­son with a light skin colour or a mulat­to of mixed parent­age

18. Se

This is from the Igbo sị, which usu­al­ly fol­lows with a quote. Also from Akan se and Eng­lish say

19. Soso

This is from the Igbo sọsọ mean­ing “only”

20. Unu

from Igbo lan­guage únù, mean­ing “you (plur­al)”

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